Today we focused on the music of the African continent, discussing the importance of music and dancing in many African cultures. The children learned that percussion instruments are of particular importance in the rich African music heritage. We looked at pictures of and listened to instruments called the sansa, axatse (pronounced “ah-hot-say”), and bata.  They really enjoyed playing the changing pitches on the bata drum, and pretending to be distant villages, sending messages by echoing drums. For more information on African music, refer to the following Web site:

I enjoyed watching the children’s faces light up as I began singing a favorite Ghanaian song from last year, “Che Che Koolay.” Use of music from varied world traditions opens ears to a world of sounds we might not otherwise hear. At the same time, the familiarity of this particular song provides the children with a sense of well-being, comfort, and confidence!

Another song from Africa is providing both movement and music activities again.  “My Head & My Shoulders”  is a fun song in which we get to play with Tempo, gradually increasing from slow to fast.  AND they got their first piece of sheet music that we did not review or practice in class today.  This first week, their assignment is to be “note detectives” and find specific notes and circle them in colors.  Please take the time to enjoy this activity with them.  I believe they are doing quite well in knowing the notes in the C Major scale, and it would be a great idea to sing through the song on the note names.  You may even try the change of Tempo idea with singing the note names. 

It is not required that they play this song effectively on the glockenspiel yet.  Remember, at this stage, we still encourage them to sing it repeatedly to plant this song as part of their musical memory, THEN use their memory to let them concentrate on applying it to an instrument.  Although they could probably read the music and play it on the instrument at the same time, they would be concentrating more on the specific notes, rather than the rhythm and phrasing of the song they know.

Please do encourage them to practice the songs they do know on the glockenspiel : 

         Bow Wow Wow (for which they will get a fuzzy dog sticker), and

         Up and Down the Scale (for which they will get a holographic piano sticker).

And on the recorder:   Lion On the Path – Magic Flute song  (a holographic star sticker)

I wish I could fully express to you the joy I see in their eyes when they have practiced and they know they can play the song, and they do it well the first time.  This happened with several of the students this week – playing the Scale song the first time through.  The reward is just an added bonus.  I also wish I could fully express the nervous looks in their eyes when they want to play a song, but they know they haven’t practiced.  I do not push them to play, and they get to tell me if they want to try or not.  But inside, they do want to play, and they want to play it well.  Please, make sure they have the opportunities to practice.  Yeah, I know it’s hard – even for me, and I’m the teacher, to make the opportunity available on a regular basis for myself, and for my child.  But it’s amazing how much practice you can fit in 15 minutes.  Good Luck !!!